Putin's invasion of Ukraine has provided all the political cover that Republicans need in order to sweep the raging racism, antisemitism, and bigotry of GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Gosar under the congressional rug.
It’s not yet clear when Kevin McCarthy will have his promised conversation with two divisive House conservatives who spoke at a white nationalist event — and whenever he does, the talk likely won’t amount to much.
The House minority leader called it “appalling” that Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) would speak at a conference organized by far-right fringe figure Nick Fuentes, who before introducing Greene asked for a “round of applause for Russia.” McCarthy also said that he’d speak with the two about their decision to ally with the fringe group, though a long list of other huge events soon drowned out the furor.
There was Russia’s war on Ukraine, a State of the Union address and Texas primary elections where McCarthy’s candidate of choice in one race handily trounced Greene’s. McCarthy reiterated later last week that he still plans to speak with the two members, whose divisive rhetoric has already repeatedly bogged down a GOP that wants to spend its time unifying against President Joe Biden — not splintering over a far-right activist.
But Greene and Gosar have little to lose. They were already stripped of their committees by Democrats last year, leaving McCarthy with few options to punish them even if he chose to. And some House Republicans argued that their leader has more pressing considerations.
“Dealing with dumb, stupid things people do in Congress should probably go down — and go pretty far down — on the list when you’ve got peacekeeping tanks rolling into a country that was not in conflict, when you’ve got record inflation, when you’ve got all of these things,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.).
“When Kevin figures out the time to deal with that, I’m sure he will,” Armstrong added. “But he’s got significantly more important things for the American people to focus on at this point right now.”
McCarthy’s office confirmed to POLITICO that he hasn’t yet spoken to the two but still plans to.
At the end of last week, multiple House Republicans shrugged off questions about the timing of McCarthy’s meeting with Greene and Gosar. It was not because they didn’t detest the duo’s decision to associate with Fuentes, who attended 2017’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., has called for the U.S. to remain majority-white and compared Jews killed in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.
On the other hand, some have privately wondered if Democrats’ move to boot Greene and Gosar from committees was designed to create future headaches for Republicans by taking away their major recourse to punish two of their biggest conservative gadflies. A few Republicans privately even credit Speaker Nancy Pelosi — without evidence she acted that purposefully — for a smart political maneuver against Greene and Gosar.
As much as I would like to believe that this was Nancy Pelosi outsmarting another dumbass Republican House caucus leader as she's done continually for the last decade plus, the reality is that Republicans in Congress, Republican voters, and the media no longer care about Gosar and Greene. They were always going to get away with it, and be handily reelected in November.
Worse, the ineffective McCarthy will almost certainly be replaced by Republicans in 2023, and if Republicans retake the House -- a pretty safe bet, frankly -- McCarthy will be jettisoned for someone like, well, Greene or Gosar.
Republican voters want someone who will make House Democrats and their voters suffer every day of House GOP control, and they will light up the phone lines and social media making sure McCarthy's replacement is just as vindictive as Trump.